Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said on Tuesday that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has traced the identities of the people who had leaked the tax records of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s family members.
Earlier this week, a report by investigative news website FactFocus — which describes itself as a “Pakistan-based digital media news organisation working on data-based investigative news stories — accused the army chief and his family of amassing assets worth Rs12.7 billion over the past six years.
The report cited tax records and wealth statements of the Bajwa family to corroborate its claims about the alleged accumulation of assets by the family inside and outside Pakistan.
Taking a notice of the FactFocus report, Dar on Monday had said that the leak was “clearly violative of the complete confidentiality of tax information that the law provides”.
He had also instructed Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Revenue Tariq Mehmood Pasha to personally lead an immediate investigation into the violation of tax law[s] and breach of FBR data, affix responsibility and submit a report within 24 hours.
In an interview with journalist Hamid Mir on Geo News programme Capital Talk today, the minister said that he had seen the interim report on the matter and expected the final report to be submitted by tonight.
“We have found traces [behind the leak]. One is from Lahore and one is from Rawalpindi,” Dar said.
He stated that there was a possibility that some of the individuals involved may have the authorisation to look at the income tax records as there was a “circle” in Rawalpindi where assessments took place.
Dar also stressed that the law doesn’t give permission to leak the record of income tax returns of anyone, whether it was the army chief or a common man, without court orders.
“This is a violation of our system and the law […] the system’s accuracy and strength have been challenged.”
The finance czar subsequently vowed that the government “will bring this to a logical conclusion”, adding that turning a blind eye to the issue would be a violation of his responsibilities.
According to the FactFocus report regarding the alleged tax records of COAS Bajwa’s family, the current market value of the known assets and business of the army chief, both within and outside Pakistan, amounted to Rs12.7 billion.
The report also shared the alleged wealth statements of Gen Bajwa and his family from 2013 to 2021.
It claimed that the assets of Gen Bajwa’s wife, Ayesha Amjad, went from zero in 2016 to Rs2.2 billion (declared and known) in six years. The report stated the amount didn’t include residential plots, commercial plots and houses given by the army to her husband.
The report also alleged that the total worth of the declared assets of Mahnoor Sabir (Gen Bajwa’s daughter-in-law ) jumped from zero in last week of October 2018 to Rs1,271 million on Nov 2, 2018, while the assets of Mahnoor’s sister Hamna Naseer went from zero in 2016 to “billions” by 2017. Furthermore, the tax returns of Sabir Hameed — the army chief’s son’s father-in-law — were less than a million in 2013 but “in the coming years, he became a billionaire”, the website claimed.
According to the publication, it was unable to obtain data about assets in the name of Gen Bajwa’s two sons.
FactFocus had later claimed that after the publication of the story, the traffic on its site was “disrupted” while also claiming that the website had been “banned”.
The website has previously published in-depth stories on the “misappropriation of funds” by a number of politicians and other powerful sectors in Pakistan, including PTI chairman Imran Khan and former dictator General Pervez Musharraf.
In 2020, the publication had released a report regarding the alleged offshore properties and businesses of former China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority chairman Lt-Gen retired Asim Saleem Bajwa and his family.